Uncertainty as Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II Returns

History was made in the ancient city of Kano last Thursday when the dethroned Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, was reinstated by Governor Abba Yusuf after he signed into law, the Kano State Emirate Council (Repeal) Bill 2024, which dissolved the four new emirates created by former Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s administration. However, a court order seeking to stop Sanusi’s reinstatement has created uncertainty, Ejiofor Alike reports

Four years after Muhammadu Sanusi II was deposed as the 14th Emir of Kano under controversial circumstances, Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State on Thursday reinstated him to the throne of his forefathers as the 16th Emir of the ancient city.

Emir Sanusi II returned to the throne after Governor Yusuf signed the Kano State Emirate Council (Repeal) Bill 2024 into law, which repealed the law that split the Kano emirate into five emirates – Kano, Rano, Karaye, Gaya and Bichi.

The year-long move to reinstate Emir Sanusi II, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), also known as Lamido Sanusi before becoming king, had created anxiety in Kano State.

Former Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s administration in 2019, enacted a law that created four additional emirates from the Kano emirate, bringing the number of first-class Emirs in the state to five.

After splitting Emir Sanusi II’s Kano emirate into five emirates to whittle down his influence, Ganduje currently the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), sacked the emir on March 9, 2020, and banished him to Loko, a remote community in Nasarawa State. 

However, Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja, in December 2021, declared his banishment as unlawful and unconstitutional, awarded N10 million compensation to him, and ordered that apology to him should be published in two national dailies.

Ganduje was not the first governor of the state to split the Kano emirate.

Following his sour relationship with the then Emir Ado Bayero, the late Governor Abubakar Rimi had on April 1, 1981, created four new emirates of Gaya, Rano, Dutse, and Auyo, in a bid to whittle down the power of the highly revered emir.

But Rimi did not dethrone Emir Bayero.

However, when he lost his reelection bid, his successor, the late Governor Sabo Aliyu Bakin Zuwa, reversed the creation of the four new emirates in 1983.

Sanusi’s return to the throne also bears similitude with the dethronement and return to the throne of the late Olowo of Owo, Sir Olateru Olagbegi.

Olagbegi was off the throne for 21 years and had to return to the throne when Oba Ogunoye with whom the Western regional government replaced him died under the administration of the old Ondo State Governor, Mr. Bamidele Olumilua.

Both the late Olagbegi and Sanusi were caught up in the intricate webs of politics in their respective intersections.

Indications that history might repeat itself emerged weeks to the May 29, 2023 handover when the presidential candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) in the 2023 general election, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso declared that the incoming administration of Governor Yusuf would revisit the dethronement of Emir Sanusi II, and the balkanisation of the emirate.

Kwankwaso’s revelations heightened speculations of the likely return of Emir Sanusi II to the throne.

Sanusi became emir during Kwankwaso’s second term as governor, when Ganduje was the deputy governor.

But when Ganduje became governor, his loyalists accused Sanusi of supporting the PDP, especially when the governor was seeking a second term on the platform of the APC in the 2019 elections, and the current governor, Yusuf, was the PDP governorship candidate.

Sanusi was also perceived by Ganduje’s allies to be too critical of the state government’s policies.

But reacting to Kwankwaso’s comments, Ganduje had told workers in his speech to mark the 2023 Workers’ Day at Sani Abacha Stadium, that God would not allow anybody to destroy the four new emirates, insisting that the new emirates were permanent.

 “And anybody that will destroy them, God Almighty will not bring him to Kano State,” Ganduje reportedly added.

One year after he removed Sanusi, Ganduje had at the presentation of a book on former President Goodluck Jonathan, which was authored by a journalist, Mr. Bonaventure Melah, argued that Sanusi was not the best man for the throne, but was chosen by Kwankwaso to spite former President Jonathan.

Sanusi had declared in a viral video after his dethronement that he was not going to fight to return to the throne.

The video was shared in March 2020 by Ibrahim Adam, the personal assistant to Yusuf as the then PDP governorship candidate in the 2019 elections.

However, Governor Yusuf reinstated Sanusi last Thursday after signing the Kano State Emirate Council (Repeal) Bill 2024 into law.

In signing the new law, which replaces the Kano State Emirates Council Law, 2019 and also dissolves the emirate councils created by Ganduje, the governor gave the five emirs 48 hours to vacate their palaces.

Handing over the letter of reinstatement to Sanusi at the Government House in Kano on Friday, Governor Yusuf said: “By the powers conferred on me by the Kano Emirate Council Law of 1984 and 2024, and supported by the recommendation of the kingmakers, I have the singular pleasure of confirming the reappointment of Muhammadu Sanusi II as the Emir of Kano and the head of the Kano Emirate Council.”

Yusuf noted that Sanusi’s reappointment was “based on his competence, credibility and popularity,” urging the new Kano Emir to be guided by the principles of Islamic teachings and to use his position to unite the emirate, and also foster harmony among the Islamic sects in the state.

On his part, Emir Sanusi II described his reinstatement as God’s will, and thanked the state government for the “rescue mission.” 

However, Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Kano, had on Thursday, granted an ex-parte order against reinstating Sanusi, pending the determination of a substantive suit filed against the reinstatement, and adjourned the case to June 3, 2024, for hearing.

But the governor ignored the order, alleging that the judge was in America when he made the order.

The governor, who vowed to report the matter to the governors’ forum, noted that he signed the law reinstating Sanusi at exactly 5:14 pm on Thursday, after which the court orders were issued.

On Saturday, the reinstated 16th Emir of Kano, moved to the Emir’s Palace, in his full traditional regalia, and sat for the first traditional court session alongside Kano kingmakers who showed solidarity to the monarch.

But Ado Bayero, also defied the governor, and moved into the second emir’s palace, also in the metropolis, amid tight security.

The state Commissioner for Police (CP) Mohammed Usaini Gumel and heads of other security agencies in the state, backed Ado Bayero, insisting on obeying the court order that stopped the governor from reinstating Sanusi.

As all the parties await the next line of action, it is hoped that Kano, which is notorious for its volatility, won’t go up in flames.

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